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The managing director of one of Ireland’s most successful Companies once told me “our business fundamentally changed for the better when we started employing ‘no problem’ people” By this she didn’t mean, people who had no problems, she meant people that when she or a customer asked them to do something they replied “NO PROBLEM”.
In an interview published in the New York Times on August 6th 2011, Alan Trefler, the founder and chief executive of Pegasystems, says that his first job was in the family Antiques business and sometimes “Dad would give me interesting assignments that would involve trying to coordinate people, all of whom were older and more experienced than I was. But I didn’t really have the authority, and I really didn’t have the right level of experience, but I had a lot of enthusiasm. So I found that with the right level of enthusiasm, you could actually get folks to follow your lead or, better yet, do some things themselves that they knew how to do better than you, even without having to push them”.
Ken Germaine is a self-employed entrepreneur, management consultant, business advisor, trainer and mentor. Ken helps entrepreneurs to assess the viability of and start their new ventures.
Selling & Negotiating Skills for Entrepreneurs
‘How to write your own business plan’
Financial Projections – A ‘how to guide’
Estimating Sales/Turnover – An exercise
Most managers are anxious when faced with complaints of workplace misconduct such as bullying or harassment, however if complaints are taken seriously and if best practice policy is adhered to, employee relations can be improved and the likelihood of lawsuits will be dramatically reduced.
Implement a company policy now and avoid litigation in the future. Optimum Results Ltd has developed comprehensive and practical training designed to guide managers with regard to best practice workplace investigation techniques.
Participants will learn the facts and partake in a serious of activities that will give them the opportunity to practice new skills and discuss issues openly thus embedding the concepts covered in the programme.
Training programme outline:
- Ensuring procedural fairness
- Disciplinary policies and procedures
- The principals of natural justice and fairness
- Fair procedures and the employee appeals tribunal / labour court
1. The value that learning and development will bring to your company is determined by linking learning objectives with measurable business outcomes.
2. The way an employee’e manager conducts performance reviews, handles career development discussions and provides leadership, can strongly influence employee satisfaction, commitment and attitudes to career development.
3. Development within a persons job is just as important as career development by moving jobs.
4. In order for managers to effectively manage employee development, they need support from their managers and training in this area.
5. The recognition of employee development as a critical component of employee success needs to be supported by senior management through both their communication and actions.
6. All managers of people should have development as part of their job description and should be recognised and rewarded for proactively owning responsibility for it.
7. Individual development is a key factor in peoples decisions to join and stay in a company.
8. Employee’s need an overview of potential career paths within the company, information on the kinds of moves that might be possible, courses that are available and the opportunity to widen their business understanding.
9. It should be the responsibility of an employee’s manager to set meaning performance management objectives and give honest feedback regarding their skills, performance and potential.
10. Make the potentially ‘fluffy’ into something tangible and beneficial, using the management of business not management/HR jargon.
Customers leave an organisation for a maximum of four possible reasons:
- They are unhappy with the price of your product or service
- They die, or are no longer active users of your product or service
- They are unhappy with the quality of your product or service
- They are unhappy with the way they have been treated
A further 14% of our customers will leave because they are dissatisfied with the product or service we are providing. This can be as a result of overpromising and under-delivering, simple things such as late deliveries of required stock or contacting a client at 10am when you had arranged to do it at 9am. All these little misdemeanours can contrive to create a level of discontent, which may prompt our valuable customer to look elsewhere.
But here is the critical finding, 68% of customers leave because of an attitude of indifference by an organisation or even a single employee to the affairs of an individual client or customer, so this then argues that a staggering 82% of customers who do leave, do so because of reasons which are very much within our own control.
The above statistic correlates strongly with research which has been commissioned both in Ireland and internationally, the overall figure being estimated by other analysts never deviates between 64-68%.
This then begs the question, what can we do to address this situation?
Firstly any organisation should prioritise their customers into certain categories, the primary variable being used to decipher which customer belongs to which category should be the frequency of each customers patronage and how much overall income they generate for your organisation on an annual basis, for the purpose of understanding lets characterise all clients into one of two possible groupings, transaction or relationship customers/clients.
Transaction customers or clients are interested only in price; they typically display little or no loyalty with both price and convenience being strong determinants of where they will choose to channel their resources, this type of customer is not interested in developing a personal relationship with your product or service and therefore will only invest in your offering on an ad-hoc basis.
It is then feasible to argue that an organisation, be they manufacturing or service based, should expend little effort and resources in trying to meet these customers needs.
The second grouping is known as relationship customers or clients. These are the customers who are the lifeblood of any organisation; their behavioural patterns indicate that they are both loyal to one particular product or service and will throughout their life time become an extremely valuable asset to any organisation. Relationship customers or clients are seeking on, familiar provider who recognises them, does favours for them and builds valuable interpersonal relationships with them.
Once they have found such a provider they invariably tend to give them all of their business.
Relationship customers and clients if properly cared for will stay with an organisation for a lifetime. It then argues in this instance that an organisation should direct much of their time and resources into the care and retention of this particular group, to fail to do so is tantamount to gross mismanagement on behalf of your organisation.
- Know who they are
- Communicate with them
- Use your best customer service team
- Build equity into the process
- Don’t stress price, stress value
We must argue that an organisation to be successful must develop their strategies, both operational and strategic very much around the actual needs of their customers. The customers must be able to identify and value your offering in order to continually invest in you. Any organisation which fails to recognise the specific needs of their customers and how these needs will evolve over time will more than likely be superseded by another competitor who is invariably more tuned in to the dynamics of their competitive environment.
It is not an overstatement to suggest a company should be paranoid about maintaining a positive and healthy relationship with their customers; the organisation should always endeavour to retain a customer for a sustained period of time, if not their lifetime.
Mystery shopping is a valuable research tool that allows companies to measure the quality of their service from their customer’s perspective.
Mystery shoppers act as “real customers”, evaluating the store, interacting with the staff and completing an on-line report to record their experience. Trained mystery shoppers are sent into a restaurant, a hotel, a supermarket, or any type of retail store to evaluate their experience as a paying customer.
Mystery shopping is not a spying mechanism, but an effective tool that allows managers to recognise weaknesses/strengths, take appropriate action, acknowledge or reward consistent performance, and improve the quality and performance of goods and services. Mystery shopping can be used as an effective method to instil positive change in staff behaviour. Changes in staff behaviour can be encouraged and maintained in the long term when mystery-shopping programme’s are used in conjunction with incentive programmes.
A good mystery shopper must be reliable, observant, organised, objective, flexible, honest and thorough. Their role is not to seek out the negatives or find fault but is to observe, report accurately on their experience and record what occurred and what didn’t occur during the visit. They must follow the protocol strictly, never lead the conversation, be observant without being obvious, and do not compare stores.
If you are interested in commencing a Mystery Shopping programme for your business or alternatively if you are interested in becoming a mystery shopper please contact Customer Perceptions Ltd
Tel: +353 (0)42 9339911
Fax: +353 (0)42 9333233
Effective attendance management will achieve results for any organisation in terms of improved staff morale, improved productivity and overall savings.
Optimum results is now offering a comprehensive and practical training programme designed to educate and guide managers with regard to lawful and best practice techniques to reduce absenteeism.
For programmes delivered in-house Optimum Results can customise and design components around your existing attendance management policies. Should your company have no attendance management policy; Optimum Results can provide all essential information along with best practice absence management tools and resources.
On completion of this programme participants will be able to:
- Fully appreciate and understand the importance of absence management
- Identify and resolve absence and performance issues
- Deal with problem situation in a timely and effective manner
- Know the key legislation that governs absence management
Creativity is no longer a buzz word in the business environment; every business knows very well how creativity is essential for success and of course it isn’t enough for businesses just to know this. Raymond Gleason, a professor of strategy and creativity at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, and co-founder of engineering design firm Santa Barbara Applied Research in Santa Barbara, California states “Without creativity, you are standing still – and nowadays that means you’re losing ground. Lose enough ground, and your business will die,”
Management cannot just demand fresh new ideas and creativity from their workforce or themselves, creativity needs to be nurtured and most importantly allowed, the number one deterrence of creativity in a workplace is fear. Employees and management are afraid of not being listened to, not being taken seriously, making mistakes, failing, their ideas being adopted by others, not receiving credit or recognition, and a fear of change; the more successful a business is, the chances of adopting a creative position towards business is lower. Steve Schloss, Software Company Oracle’s vice president of quality believes that “Fear in the work place is the number one killer of getting companies to expand, grow and improve.”
Kathleen R. Allen, USC Professor and entrepreneurship expert specializing in technology development and commercialization shares her steps to maximizing creativity in the workplace.
Carrying a notebook
Ideas and more importantly great ideas can come to you at any time, be prepared and take note of them before they are gone. “You never know when an idea will occur to you – an idea for a new business or a better way of doing what you’re presently doing. As you drive, watch TV; eat lunch, ideas pop into your head. Unless you write them down, you will not remember them,” says Kathleen R. Allen
Allen advises to really pay attention to what is going on around us, don’t just “navigate through our world on autopilot” When you begin to question what you see and what is happening around you, ideas and new ways of thinking emerge.
Allen knows that great ideas can be inspired by other people. “So many ideas come up when you meet new people. Somebody will say ‘I wish a company did this,’ and, bingo, an idea for a business comes to you,” Creativity and fresh thinking come from people, from merging an assortment of experiences, expertise, industries and markets the possibilities are incessant.
Think in opposites
“For every idea – for every sacred cow – there is an opposite idea, and, sometimes, exploring the opposite is where entrepreneurs will find the best ideas.” Allen’s idea goes further than just thinking positively. Every idea, issue and problem has many different sides and directions, exploring all bearings can open up and uncover new opportunities.
Reinvent the wheel
“Ask yourself how you can put a new twist on an old product or service.” Why not? Are there new ways of looking at things? Can products and services be bettered and re invented? “Keep in mind that sometimes the most creative uses [involve] literally smashing the product and coming up with something entirely new.”
Challenge your ruts
Allen warns that doing the same thing the same way every day is a barrier to creativity. You need to feel a little uncomfortable to be able to explore new areas, experience new things and in turn receive creative sparks and fresh thinking. By challenging yourself you are opening your mind to new experiences and breaking down your barrier to creativity. “Anything we do that forces us out of our normal environment will let us see things in new, different ways.”
Fantastic, the workplace is bubbling with creative ideas, fresh thinking and new outlooks but what to do with them? Notebooks full of ideas are no good unless they can be realistically implemented. These ideas need to be reality tested. Mike Vance, former dean of Disney University, the Walt Disney Co.’s training program and now chairman of the Creative Thinking Association of America tells “Ideas are great, but how do they match up with marketplace realities?” If ideas are realistic and have potential for success they need to be developed and refined. The initial idea is only a starting point for numerous improvements and redevelopments.
Creativity is not a gift bestowed to only a precious few; creativity can be developed in all with practice and an open mind alongside everything else. With creativity, solutions, new direction, fresh thinking, good morale, business growth and success, can all be achieved!